Genesis 27 - Stealing a blessing or fulfilling God's will?
Motherhood fail moments that God used
He was in his hundred thirty-seventh year;
He was in his hundred thirty-seventh year;
He was in his hundred thirty-seventh year; and apprehending death to be near, Isaac prepared to make his last will—an act of the gravest importance, especially as it included the conveyance through a prophetic spirit of the patriarchal blessing
6. Rebekah spake unto Jacob—She prized the blessing as invaluable; she knew that God intended it for the younger son [Ge 25:23]; and in her anxiety to secure its being conferred on the right object—on one who cared for religion—she acted in the sincerity of faith; but in crooked policy—with unenlightened zeal; on the false principle that the end would sanctify the means.
11. Jacob said, Esau my brother is a hairy man—It is remarkable that his scruples were founded, not on the evil of the act, but on the risk and consequences of deception.
third, of the long white robe—the vestment of the first-born, which, transmitted from father to son and kept in a chest among fragrant herbs and perfumed flowers used much in the East to keep away moths—his mother provided for him
27:15 best garments This may refer to special clothing worn for festivals and important ceremonies. This would heighten the credulity of Isaac, since he would naturally assume that only Esau would know what was transpiring.
27:29 Be lord of your brothers This wording describes the vast scope of the recipient’s predominance. Since Isaac was passing on a divinely ordained covenant relationship with Yahweh, this phrase is appropriate. Compare note on v. 4.
those blessing you The covenant promise of 12:3 is reiterated here.
42. these words of Esau were told Rebekah—Poor woman! she now early begins to reap the bitter fruits of her fraudulent device; she is obliged to part with her son, for whom she planned it, never, probably, seeing him again; and he felt the retributive justice of heaven fall upon him heavily in his own future family.
45. Why should I be deprived of you both?—This refers to the law of Goelism, by which the nearest of kin would be obliged to avenge the death of Jacob upon his brother.
46. Rebekah said to Isaac—Another pretext Rebekah’s cunning had to devise to obtain her husband’s consent to Jacob’s journey to Mesopotamia; and she succeeded by touching the aged patriarch in a tender point, afflicting to his pious heart—the proper marriage of their younger son.
Thus the words of Isaac to his two sons were fulfilled,—words which are justly said to have been spoken “in faith concerning things to come” (Heb. 11:20). For the blessing was a prophecy, and that not merely in the case of Esau, but in that of Jacob also; although Isaac was deceived with regard to the person of the latter. Jacob remained blessed, therefore, because, according to the predetermination of God, the elder was to serve the younger; but the deceit by which his mother prompted him to secure the blessing was never approved. On the contrary, the sin was followed by immediate punishment. Rebekah was obliged to send her pet son into a foreign land, away from his father’s house, and in an utterly destitute condition. She did not see him for twenty years, even if she lived till his return, and possibly never saw again. Jacob had to atone for his sin against both brother and father by a long and painful exile, in the midst of privation, anxiety, fraud, and want. Isaac was punished for retaining his preference for Esau, in opposition to the revealed will of Jehovah, by the success of Jacob’s stratagem; and Esau for his contempt of the birthright, by the loss of the blessing of the first-born. In this way a higher hand prevailed above the acts of sinful men, bringing the counsel and will of Jehovah to eventual triumph, in opposition to human thought and will.
I. The end was good, for she was directed in this intention by the oracle of God, by which she had been governed in dispensing her affections. God had said it should be so, that the elder should serve the younger; and therefore Rebekah resolves it shall be so, and cannot bear to see her husband designing to thwart the oracle of God. But,
II. The means were bad, and no way justifiable. If it was not a wrong to Esau to deprive him of the blessing (he himself having forfeited it by selling the birthright), yet it was a wrong to Isaac, taking advantage of his infirmity, to impose upon him; it was a wrong to Jacob too, whom she taught to deceive, by putting a lie into his mouth, or at least by putting one into his right hand. It would likewise expose him to endless scruples about the blessing, if he should obtain it thus fraudulently, whether it would stand him or his in any stead, especially if his father should revoke it, upon the discovery of the cheat, and plead, as he might, that it was nulled by an error personae—a mistake of the person. He himself also was aware of the danger, lest (v. 12), if he should miss of the blessing, as he might probably have done, he should bring upon himself his father’s curse, which he dreaded above any thing; besides, he laid himself open to that divine curse which is pronounced upon him that causeth the blind to wander out of the way, Deu. 27:18. If Rebekah, when she heard Isaac promise the blessing to Esau, had gone, at his return from hunting, to Isaac, and, with humility and seriousness, put him in remembrance of that which God had said concerning their sons,—if she further had shown him how Esau had forfeited the blessing both by selling his birthright and by marrying strange wives, it is probable that Isaac would have been prevailed upon knowingly and wittingly to confer the blessing upon Jacob, and needed not thus to have been cheated into it. This would have been honourable and laudable, and would have looked well in the history; but God left her to herself, to take this indirect course, that he might have the glory of bringing good out of evil, and of serving his own purposes by the sins and follies of men, and that we might have the satisfaction of knowing that, though there is so much wickedness and deceit in the world, God governs it according to his will, to his own praise. See Job 12:16, With him are strength and wisdom, the deceived and the deceiver are his. Isaac had lost the sense of seeing, which, in this case, could not have been imposed upon, Providence having so admirably well ordered the difference of features that no two faces are exactly alike: conversation and commerce could scarcely be maintained if there were not such a variety. Therefore she endeavours to deceive, 1. His sense of tasting, by dressing some choice pieces of kid, seasoning them, serving them up, so as to make him believe they were venison: this it was no hard matter to do. See the folly of those that are nice and curious in their appetite, and take a pride in humouring it. It is easy to impose upon them with that which they pretend to despise and dislike, so little perhaps does it differ from that to which they give a decided preference. Solomon tells us that dainties are deceitful meat; for it is possible for us to be deceived by them in more ways than one, Prov. 23:32. 2. His sense of feeling and smelling. She put Esau’s clothes upon Jacob, his best clothes, which, it might be supposed, Esau would put on, in token of joy and respect to his father, when he was to receive the blessing. Isaac knew these, by the stuff, shape, and smell, to be Esau’s. If we would obtain a blessing from our heavenly Father, we must come for it in the garments of our elder brother, clothed with his righteousness, who is the first-born among many brethren. Lest the smoothness and softness of Jacob’s hands and neck should betray him, she covered them, and probably part of his face, with the skins of the kids that were newly killed, v. 16. Esau was rough indeed when nothing less than these would serve to make Jacob like him. Those that affect to seem rough and rugged in their carriage put the beast upon the man, and really shame themselves, by thus disguising themselves. And, lastly, it was a very rash word which Rebekah spoke, when Jacob objected the danger of a curse: Upon me be thy curse, my son, v. 13. Christ indeed, who is mighty to save, because mighty to bear, has said, Upon me be the curse, only obey my voice; he has borne the burden of the curse, the curse of the law, for all those that will take upon them the yoke of the command, the command of the gospel. But it is too daring for any creature to say, Upon me be the curse, unless it be that curse causeless which we are sure shall not come, Prov. 26:2.
All participants were at fault. Isaac knew of God’s oracle to Rebekah (25:23) that the elder would serve the younger; yet he set out to thwart it by blessing Esau! Esau, agreeing to the plan, broke the oath he had made with Jacob (25:33). Rebekah and Jacob, with a just cause, each tried to achieve God’s blessing by deception, without faith or love. Theirs would be the victory, but they would reap hatred and separation for Rebekah never saw Jacob again! So the conflict between Jacob and Esau was greatly deepened by Jacob’s pursuit—he wanted what belonged to the firstborn, the blessing. Yet the story is not just about Jacob. He alone did not destroy the family; parental preference did.
Worse still, Isaac on his deathbed flouted convention and showed total bias towards Esau. When patriarchs knew their death was near, they were expected to summon all their sons and give them each a blessing (cf. chs. 48–50). Now, lamely pretending he does not know the day of his death (2), Isaac summoned only his favourite, Esau. No wonder Rebekah, who had long preferred Jacob (25:28), was incensed.
Yet in the longer term it is apparent that Jacob’s deceit caught up with him and Rebekah. Esau’s anger at Jacob’s deed forced the latter to leave home, so that despite Rebekah’s hope that he would only be away a few days (a while, v 44) she never saw him again. Jacob, who cheated his father, would soon be cheated by his father-in-law Laban, who would force him to marry Leah as well as Rachel. This would be a cause of perpetual distress to Jacob for the rest of his days. In their turn, Leah’s sons would deceive Jacob with a kid about Joseph’s fate, just as Jacob deceived his father with a kid (37:31–35; 27:9, 16). Later too, Jacob acknowledged his fault. When he returned to Canaan, he gave flocks and herds to Esau and invited him to accept them with the words ‘Please accept my blessing [the NIV’s ‘the present’ is inexact] that was brought to you’ (33:11). With this gesture he was trying to give back the blessing he had cheated Esau out of.
“Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob” (Genesis 25:28)
God had declared that it was His will that the second-born son take the inheritance position of the first son, yet Jacob went against all of this because he favored Esau who brought him fresh meat to eat. Deathbed bequests were legally binding, and if Isaac had blessed Esau instead of Jacob, then God’s will would have been overthrown and the Messianic line would have been cut.
The key actor in this story was God, not Jacob, Isaac or Esau. God was forging ahead with his redemptive plan. Since he was accomplishing his goals through real humans, his perfect plan was worked through sinful and error-ridden people.
. It is paradoxical that Esau lost his birthright after he returned from a hunt, and he is about to lose the blessing after he leaves for a hunt.